Lake George Drama is Latest Adaptation of Last of the Mohicans
“It was in this scene of strife and bloodshed that the incidents we shall attempt to relate occurred, during the third year of the war which England and France last waged for the possession of a country that neither was destined to retain.”
Thus begins James Fenimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans,” the first American novel based on the relatively new country’s own history.
In August, 1757, after enduring a seige that had lasted six days, outnumbered three to one and deprived of any hopes of re-enforcements, Lt. Commander Munro, the Scots veteran charged with the defense of Fort William Henry, surrendered to the Marquis de Montcalm on the conditiuon that the garrison be allowed to march out with the honors of war – flags, arms, but no ammunition. Montcalm agreed to escort the garrison to Fort Edward. The wounded were to remain at Fort William Henry until they were able to travel.
Somewhere between Lake George and Halfway Brook, the soldiers, along with women and children, were attacked by Indians allied with the French. It has been estimated that anywhere from 200 to 1500 people were killed that day, and that at least 200 people were taken to Canada as captives.
In “Last of the Mohicans,” this is the attack in which Munro’s daughters are taken captive by the Hurons. Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas pursue them into Canada.
On July 29, an outdoor drama based on “Last of the Mohicans,” will open at the Wild West Ranch in Lake George. Tickets for the fourteen nights have been on sale since last month.
During a trial, six night run at the Fort William Henry last summer, every performance sold out in advance, said Luisa Craige-Sherman of Queensbury.
It’s the latest adaptation of Cooper’s novel, which has been recast as nine feature films, two animated movies and three television series, as Russell Bellico points out in his new book about Lake George’s role in the French and Indian War, Empires in the Mountains.
The novel has also been adapted for comic books; in 1942, it became the fourth work published by Classic Comics.
According to Bellico, only one movie based on Last of the Mohicans was actually shot on Lake George, a silent film made in 1911.
The 1992 film by Michael Mann, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis, was filmed in North Carolina.
The photographs of the sets on this page were taken by Mark Ricker, now an award-winning production designer who was at the start of his career when he was hired as a set dresser for Last of the Mohicans.
According to Ricker, Mann wanted to make the film on Lake George, but came to the conclusion that the region’s over-development made that impossible.
Nevertheless, Russ Bellico writes, of all the versions made, Mann’s film is “the most authentic depiction of hostilities during the French and Indian War.”
Bellico says that Mann “insisted on the use of flintlocks, black powder and realistic Native American dress and weapons.”
The dramatization of Last of the Mohicans at Wild West will feature live horses, Native American music and dance, cannon and musket fire and period costumes.
Last of the Mohicans will be staged Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through August 20. Performances start at 8 pm. Tickets are $20 per adult, $15 for seniors and children under 12. For information, call 681-1574.